When you ask an Indian American doctor to meet other Indian doctors in Kansas, what do you expect?

A faux pas by Sen. Pat Roberts.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: Kansas Senator Pat Roberts is receiving a lot of flak online for a misguided but arguably well-intentioned comment he made during the Senate confirmation hearings of Dr. Vivek Murthy, the 36 year-old physician who is on the cusp of being the first Indian American Surgeon General in US history.

Roberts, a Republican, invited Murthy to visit his home state after listing all the other Indian-origin doctors Roberts said he knows. “You ever been to Dodge City, Kansas?” Robert asked Murthy, to which the latter responded “I have not, sir, but I would love to come.”

“I’m going to invite you because we have a wonderful doctor from India,” Roberts then said. “She in her mid-30s, and she’s highly respected by the community. And another doctor from India that did my carpal tunnel when I did a stupid thing. And so, I think you’d be right at home, and we would welcome you.”

The comment has been met with everything from outrage to amused acceptance on social media and in the comments sections of several news websites, with many saying that it is simply indicative of the Republicans’ lack of sensitivity when dealing with race.

A commenter on RawStory.com called it a “prime example of a bigot trying to have a conversation with a minority, fun to observe,” while another said “Well, Senator, we have some piles of s*** on the sidewalk here in Philly, so when you visit, you’d fit right in.”

On Slate.com, writer David Weigel called the incident “Kansas Senator Wants Indian-American Nominee to Meet His Cool Indian Friends,” while ThinkProgress.org termed the episode “Come Meet All the Lovely Indian Doctors in My Hometown.” Traditional Republican news sources like Fox News have not reported the incident on their websites, either, leading some to speculate that they just don’t want to highlight such a faux pas committed by one of their own.

Below is the video of Roberts’s comment – did Roberts have a racial motivation in making his statement, or was it a perfectly benign statement that’s been warped by the internet? You be the judge.

To contact the author, email to deepakchitnis@americanbazaaronline.com

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